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The Show Goes On at Tahiti Pearl Regatta

Wherever you travel in the realm of sailing you’re apt to notice certain universal themes. Such as: With a sweet breeze and a good-natured crew, you can have as much fun sailing on a decades-old boat with well-worn sails and a few dings in her hull as you can aboard a brand-new boat that’s just been unwrapped.

We were reminded of this truism at the annual Tahiti Pearl Regatta (May 13-18), where a disparate fleet of monohulls, multihulls and traditionally inspired double-outrigger canoes raced between Taha’a and Raiatea in French Polynesia’s Leeward Islands.

Two guys on a Hobie Cat
This vintage Hobie Cat was certainly not the sexiest cat in the fleet, but these guys had great fun putting her through her paces.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Andy

In a normal year, the TPR is the Central South Pacific’s largest and most international sailing contest. It typically attracts dozens of foreign sailors from Europe, the US, New Zealand, Australia, Japan and/or elsewhere to race across turquoise lagoons aboard chartered bareboats, or find crew spots holding down the rails of local racing machines.

Green catamaran
Skippering the unique cat that he designed and built, Nico Gruet fights off two Speed Fleet 18 sportboats at a windward mark.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Andy

But with incoming international flights suspended due to COVID concerns until just a few days ago, there had been talk within the race committee of possibly canceling this year’s event. But luckily for me and all others who attended, the prevailing spirit was that “The show must go on!” And as far as we could tell, a good time was had by all. (For more info see

What the vintage Farr 11.6 Diabolic lacked in bottom paint, she made up for with tight crew work. She won her division with Hervé Bride at the helm.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Andy

Although Tahiti’s borders are still closed to foreign-flagged yachts, many marine industry leaders there seem hopeful that will soon change. So keep the TPR in mind for next season (May 25-28, 2022). Also, the Pacific Puddle Jump rally to French Polynesia is expected to come out of hibernation this summer, with the announcement of its 2022 event.

palm trees
Needless to say, the scenery was stunning.
© 2021 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Andy

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